On the Sunday before my husband and I left for a vacation in Las Vegas, I spent a ridiculous amount of time going over a list of notes I'd made. My husband's parents had generously offered to stay with the kids while we were gone, and I thought the schedule I left them was pretty straightforward. As my mother-in-law and I reviewed it together, though, I saw how complicated everything actually was: one kid gets dropped off at school at this time, the other gets picked up at this time, both kids are at the afternoon bus stop at this time, except for Wednesdays when literally everything is different because it's early release day at school, and oh yeah there's the neighbor girl who comes over on these days, and homework is due on --
Anyway. Handing over my daily mom-list to someone else served to reinforce my fervent belief there's one thing you should definitely do as a couple before you have children ... because afterwards, it's damn near impossible.
I am, of course, talking about having sex on the kitchen counter in the middle of the day. Ha! Just kidding. (Although it's true that particular activity is likely to become a thing of the past, if only because of all the PB&J crumbs that get plastered to your rear end.) No, I'm talking about travel. In my experience, traveling with your significant other gets significantly harder once you become parents.
"But traveling with kids is easy and fun!" you may be saying right now. To that I can only ask: do you happen to be experiencing sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of your body? Because literally the only way I can make sense of that statement is if a blood clot is currently blocking an artery in your brain. Please note that this is an incredibly dangerous situation and you should call 911 immediately, assuming you can still hold a phone in your stiffening claw.
People who are not in the midst of a medical emergency would probably agree that bringing young children on planes is exactly as relaxing and enjoyable as violently stubbing your toe on a bedframe, like one of those super-shitty metal ones that's hidden under the dust ruffle. The logistics of getting from Point A to Point B are hard enough, then once you reach your destination, you realize that there's really no such thing as a true "vacation" when kids are involved. Ideally your family trip will be fun, memorable, and a wonderful change of routine -- but let's be real, it's not a respite. It's parenting with different scenery.
Jetting off for an adults-only trip is an amazing treat, but it's not easy to pull off for most of us. There's the expense, obviously, but also the challenge of finding a family member or trusted friend who's willing to take over parenting duties while you're gone. It's not like you can just stash your children in a boarding kennel for the week. I mean, even if there was such a service, that would clearly be a terrible thing to do and probably totally illegal. (*Casually slides Kidz Kennelz business plan out of view*)
It's only been in the past year that we've lived close to family, so this Vegas trip was the first time my husband and I had stepped on a plane together since 2005. Which, coincidentally, was when our oldest son was born. Parenthood has been a hell of a ride -- but it's been a long time since we actually went anywhere.
I don't believe our traveling days are behind us, but things are certainly different than they used to be. I'm so glad we got in the trips we did when we were first married: Phuket, Hong Kong, Mexico, a Caribbean cruise. God, looking back, we were so carefree. We just planned our itinerary, and then we left. I had no idea, back then, how utterly foreign that concept would eventually seem.
I love the chaotic, busy, mostly-rooted-in-one-place life my husband and I have now. I love that things have changed so much over the years, and that our relationship has grown and deepened and become the bedrock foundation for our little family. But here's what I'd tell anyone planning to have kids someday: BOOK A FLIGHT RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Go to as many places as you can together ... because it's probably never going to be as easy as it is right now.
Also, wear the shit out of that bikini. Take it from me, that won't be as easy after you have kids either.
Did you travel more before you became a parent?
Image via Linda Sharps